A voice whispered on the air. At first she wasn’t sure it was a voice, and not just the sound of the wind in the trees. She looked around, her arm still leaning on the tree, but she saw nothing. She closed her eyes again, wondering if she needed to add hallucinations to her list of concerns. Everything was so strange.
It came again, closer this time. It sounded more like words, but she couldn’t understand it.
“Who?” she asked the air around her as she looked around. She pulled her hand from the tree and turned her body, trying to find who it was. “What are you saying?”
The soft breeze on her face was briefly warm, like someone’s breath, and she finally heard the words.
“What comfort can I give?” the wind whispered. She blinked, wondering again if it was in her mind. But as she opened her eyes, a figure seemed to form from the dark patterns of the tree on which she leaned.
It took the shape of a girl, the hair was wild, shoulder length. She couldn’t see colors in the night, but the hair and skin were fair colored. She had long graceful arms and legs, and wore a short sleeved dress that fell just below her knees. She wore no shoes.
“I am Sylfania, and this is my oak tree,” she said. Her voice still sounded like the wind but came louder, easier to hear, but still soothing. “I’m sorry I spoke too softly, I rarely speak to anyone but the animals. It’s been ages since I’ve seen a blood human.” She had a slight smile on her face – not of mockery but welcome. “Who are you? And what aid can I give? I can feel your confusion… your pain.”
The angel was silent for a moment. “I… am Shia Al’Matar,” she spoke suddenly. “An angel of…” she trailed off, remembering that she didn’t know any more. “I’m an angel,” she said quietly. “What do you mean a blood human? Aren’t you …”
Sylfania’s smile returned. “I am not a daughter of man, no,” she said. “I am a dryad. A spirit of the trees. No blood runs under my skin. If you are an angel… do angels have blood?” She pinched her chin between her thumb and index finger, her eyes narrowing as she studied Shia. “I have not learned of angels.”
“I… really don’t know,” was all Shia could answer. “I don’t seem to know anything – how I got here, where I came from, what I must do, what’s happening to me. I don’t know what to do.” She rubbed her arms with her hands, arms crossed in front of her. She wasn’t cold. Not truly. She suspected that if she were not an angel she would have been. But thinking of her situation made her think she should be cold.
Sylfania’s tilted her head. “I cannot give you comfort,” she said. It was a matter-of-fact statement. “I must take you to someone who can. She reached out to take Shia’s hand.
Shia balked. She didn’t know if she should trust this person. But what choice did she have, really. She had no one else. Nowhere else to go. She didn’t know what the dryad had in mind, but she knew it must be better than weeping alone in the woods. Slowly reached her hand out and took Sylfania’s.
The dryad’s smile grew. “I think there’s a road this way,” she still spoke softly, so that Shia had to strain to hear it all. She pulled Shia in a direction at angles to the direction she had been following. She whistled, and in a moment a bird landed on her shoulder. Sylfania’s wind-like speech continued, but Shia couldn’t understand the words. The bird made a series of chirps and whistles and other sounds, as if it were speaking with her. A few moments later the bird flew away again. “Trundle will scout for us,” Sylfania explained.
Shia remained mute. She was more surprised every moment of this journey, but She felt sure she would continue to be surprised by everything. After all, why wouldn’t a tree spirit speak with birds?
Putting more trust than she believed she had in the dryad, she allowed herself to be led into the night.